The dreaded words. Clear out. I’m all for a clear out, it’s sensible and healthy, but my goodness – it is not a pleasant process. It’s bad enough doing it with clothes, but books? Indecision goes into overdrive. Not only is it hard to choose what to keep and what to get rid of, books work differently than other possessions. I get attached to clothes, but my attitude to them sometimes changes, as do my tastes and, dare I say it, my size. Getting rid of clothes I no longer wear is often an issue of practicality. I don’t need the clothes I no longer. But do I need all my books?
Yes. Of course I do. Books are a necessity. HOWEVER there are some that I would choose to get rid of because I don’t like them. That’s a matter of taste, which is different.
Is this making any sense?
The issues of having a clear out of books has been growing since my boyfriend and I moved into our little flat a year ago. We were both moving out of our parents’ homes, and as English Literature students and big readers, we both have a LOT of books. I brought about half of mine, and he brought about a third of his (our mothers dutifully guard the rest of them, piled up in their homes, gathering dust), and our flat only has two bookshelves. Also, a year is a long time, and there are now a lot more books than there used to be. Dan is a bit of an impulse buyer, and as a blogger I get sent a lot of proofs – which equals a lot of books. Most of them are mine, and they’ve started to inhabit the coffee table, the desk, the floor, the sofa… I was duly informed last week that it was time for a clear out.
Now comes the question: what do I get rid of? But also: why do I get rid of this book and not that one? There’s also the issue of what to do with unwanted proofs, as these aren’t technically books, and you’re aren’t technically allowed to sell them on – so can I give them to a charity shop? Still not sure. However as far as I know it IS ok to pass them on to friends/fellow bloggers, so, if I have any old proofs that I no longer want, I will give my readers/followers a chance to take them off my hands, so keep an eye out for that!
I’d be interested to know what prompts you to have a clear out – books you no longer care about/like, or just physical space – and what makes you decide to keep one book and not another. What is it that makes get attached to a book, and what makes us feel indifferent about one?
As I get going with the clear out I will be following up on here with updates and photos, and I will be giving away some books. I’m aiming to give proofs and a few finished copies away online, and then the rest of the unwanted books (if there are enough!) will go to the Oxfam bookshop here in Oxford. I can’t promise I won[t buy at least one more book while I’m there – I’ve never been and have often imagined the vintage delights it may hold.
How do YOU feel about book clear outs?